Scottish Golf Support Limited (SGSL), the partnership backed by the Scottish Government to help the country’s young professionals progress in their respective careers, has announced its support to six players following the success of the programme last year.
European Tour rookie Scott Henry, Challenge Tour trio Duncan Stewart, Wallace Booth and Ross Kellett, along with Ladies European Tour graduate Pamela Pretswell and fellow LET card holder Kylie Walker are all recipients of funding and support for 2013.
Henry, along with Callum Macaulay, Gavin Dear and Walker, were among four players who benefited from the support last year and the former pair both succeeded in reaching the European Tour for this year, Henry via Challenge Tour promotion and Macaulay through the Qualifying School Final Stage.
Both players felt the support package received, which included both direct financial support and world-class coaching and sport science support from the sportscotland institute of sport, was pivotal to their success.
Launched in 2010, SGSL was given a £1 million investment by sportscotland over at least five years to assist Scotland’s most promising young professionals in the transition from the amateur ranks, harnessing the combined expertise of sportscotland, the Scottish Golf Union (SGU), Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association (SLGA) and the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA).
Each of the six players selected will receive around £23,000 in direct funding support this season. The funding can be used for warm weather training costs, competition expenses, coaching and other specialist support provision, based on each individual’s requirements. In return, the players will support SGU, SLGA and ClubGolf activities, such as squad sessions and junior golf clinics. Players also have access to the full range of service provision from the sportscotland institute of sport including; medical, physiotherapy, strength and conditioning, and psychology.
Former Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart and Pete Cowen, the highly-respected coach of a number of leading players, will continue to overview the players’ development coaching, while Catriona Matthew, Scotland’s most successful female golfer, will provide mentoring support.
Henry, the two-time Scottish Boys champion, is bidding to flourish at the top table of European golf in 2013, with the 26-year-old so far keen to improve on making three cuts in his opening eight events. Seeking to follow the Glaswegian’s path from the Challenge Tour are Kellett, Booth and Stewart, who earned their promotions last year via the Alps and EuroPro Tours respectively.
Stewart sold shares in himself – with Ryder Cup hero Paul Lawrie among those backing him – to fund his season on the EuroPro Tour last year, and his efforts paid off as the 28-year-old from Grantown on Spey finished second on the merit standings. Comrie’s Booth, a former Eisenhower Trophy winner, claimed the final qualifying merit spot, allowing the 27-year-old brother of Carly to also reach the Challenge Tour.
Motherwell’s Kellett finished in the top five on the Alps Tour circuit to graduate and is delighted to have SGSL support as he seeks to make further progress up the professional ladder.
“Having the backing of Scottish Golf Support Limited funding is massive for me in taking away any financial worry of playing a year on the Challenge Tour, particularly as we start to travel further and wider around the world than ever before”, said Kellett, 25, who has already played in Kenya this year.
“To have the support of the sportscotland institute of sport is also a huge help for our fitness requirements. Having money to go away on warm weather training assists too, as it’s tough to get really good work done in Scotland when the winter takes hold.”
Meanwhile, Pretswell – also present alongside Kellett for the media launch on home turf at Bothwell Castle Golf Club – topped the LET Access Series Order of Merit last year to achieve her Ladies European Tour card for 2013.
The 23-year-old from Lanark, a member of Great Britain & Ireland’s triumphant Curtis Cup team last year at Nairn and the 2010 British Ladies Stroke Play champion, said: “The support from Scottish Golf Support Limited is greatly appreciated. The financial funding has allowed me to forward plan for the season, allowing me to fully prepare in advance for all my events to give me the best possible opportunity to perform at my best at each event.
“The additional support services and having the opportunity to speak to and learn from people such as Andrew Coltart are so valuable. To have that extra support means a lot, and I’m confident it will help me greatly in my rookie season on the LET.”
Walker, meantime, enjoyed a solid year in 2012, including a season-best tie for 10th at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open, and recently shared 16th spot at the World Ladies Championship in China. As an amateur, the Glaswegian, 26, won the SLGA Order of Merit in 2008 and was twice winner of the St Rule Trophy.
Louise Martin, CBE, chair of sportscotland, said: “The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles next year provides us with an excellent opportunity to promote golf and ensure there is a lasting legacy for the sport. Central to that aspiration is Scottish Golf Support Limited’s Pro Support and ClubGolf, both of which sportscotland invests in.
“The Pro Support has already helped many of Scotland’s young golfers progress and it is great news that Scottish Golf Support Limited is extending the support to six players this year.”
The six golfers each meet the minimum requirements of having full playing rights on the European Challenge Tour or Ladies European Tour, being in the early stages of playing professional golf and shown a willingness to engage with and maximise the support being offered.
In addition, the programme has continued to support three former top amateur talents in Scotland – James Byrne, David Law and Michael Stewart – offering help with their QualifyingTourSchool costs. While the players did not gain the current minimum tour playing rights, all three have been offered ongoing support from the sportscotland institute of sport during the early stages of their careers as professional golfers.
Top female amateur Sally Watson was also assisted with tour school costs and, although not successful this time around, is eligible for consideration again if she continues to perform at the required standard.